What Does an Occupational Therapy Assistant Do?

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An OTA creates treatment plans based on their client’s medical history, current level of ability, and goals. OTAs incorporate exercise into their clients’ routines and help them find adaptive ways of completing common tasks. An OTA’s main goals are to enrich their clients’ lives and support them.

OTA working with child and toys on floor

OTAs work with people of all ages helping them develop, improve, or recover skills needed for daily living. They work closely with their clients to identify their specific needs and goals and then develop a personalized plan to help them improve their skills.

It’s a rewarding career path where you can make a direct impact on the lives of others. It’s also a field where there are plenty of job opportunities. A career as an OTA offers flexibility, variety, creative problem solving and is very rewarding as a profession. In fact, OTA was recently named the No. 1 healthcare support job by U.S News and World Report.

In this blog, we’ll talk more about what it is that OTAs do.

Occupational Therapy Assistants Give Personalized Care

Working alongside an occupational therapist, OTAs participate in evaluations, deliver treatment, document, and review progress. Personalized care means a special plan is created for each client based on their unique needs and goals.

The OTA then helps people do the activities and exercises outlined in their plan and tracks their progress to see if they are improving. The OTA may also recommend adaptive equipment to help clients build on their strengths and improve their abilities. They will also adjust the plan, as needed, to best serve the client, helping them continue to make progress. Finally, part of the job also involves educating and training clients, families, and caregivers.

student helping elderly woman with stretch bands

Personalized care is important because it meets the unique needs of each person, based on what is meaningful to them. This helps them to recover and improve their skills. The OT and OTA work together to offer their clients:

  • Guidance
  • Instructions
  • Education
  • Support

Due to the many needs served by occupational therapy, you can find OTAs in a number of settings, including hospitals, rehab centers, schools, nursing homes, retirement communities and more.

One of the best things about being an OTA is that every day is different, bringing with it new challenges and opportunities to make a different in the lives of their clients.

OT with client holding stretch bands

Interested in learning more about the field? Find out why occupational therapy is important.

Six Examples of OTA Treatment Activities

Because of the diverse nature of occupational therapy, occupational therapy assistants can work in a variety of settings with clients of all ages. In each setting, a personalized treatment plan is created for the client.

Here are six examples of treatment activities from different settings where OTAs can work:

  1. Assist a client with a spinal cord injury, while transferring to a tub bench, so they can become more independent while showering at home.
  2. Work with a client on home modifications for safety, including removing tripping hazards like loose rugs, installing grab bars in the bathroom, and adding lighting to dark areas in the home.
  3. Help a child improve their handwriting skills through use of a handwriting curriculum and feedback on letter formation and spacing.
  4. Help a client to return to playing cards, after a stroke, by using a cardholder to hold the cards while using their affected arm to pick up and play the cards during a game, in a skilled nursing facility.
  5. Use a picture schedule to provide visual supports for a child, at school, to help them stay organized and focus on classroom activities.
  6. Guide a client with depression and anxiety through relaxation techniques they can use to help manage their anxiety around shopping in a crowded grocery store.
woman helping elderly woman in kitchen

OTAs are in high demand. Find out why the OTA career outlook is bright.

Earn Your OTA Degree from St. Kate’s in as Few as 16 Months

What an occupational therapy assistant does is incredibly valuable to clients and can have lasting effects on the OTA. Changing someone’s life for the better through occupational therapy is a rewarding and achievable career path — and one you could be on sooner than you may think.

St K. OTA student in purple shirt standing outside

Are you interested in finding out how you can pursue an exciting career as an occupational therapy assistant? With three start dates each year and spots available now, you can start working toward becoming an OTA in as few as 16 months.

Request that an admissions counselor reach out to you to learn more about our Online OTA program to learn more.

outside shot of st. kate campus

The Ultimate Guide to Occupational Therapy and OTA

Get answers to your questions about the field, about the OTA career path, and about St. Catherine University’s Online OTA program.

book with cover title: Occupational Therapy Assistant Explained